Sally Ball

High Desert

Ocotillo, juniper, prickly pear:
so staunch, these life-bound clingers-to-the-rocks.
They’re almost dead, or so they seem
with their twisting arthritic fingers,
the prickly pear a hunched cluster
of hostility and fruit.

The trees: junipers, my birth month
tucked inside their name, they look
like someone stripped their flesh away,
all ragged sinew, contortionists
with open arms.

This one has a bicep, little show off
making muscles in the sun. Existence
like a static grudge. While others
on the south face curve and reach
like Martha Graham, elegant,
so open. They give themselves,
they trust the air. Afraid of—  
not caress, not punishment.